When you have two kids who will be able to vote in the next election, they kinda pay attention to the current election. All three of my children were interested in this year’s process – nothing really new…..as I’ve said, we don’t censor much, and we’re kind of a civically-minded family, so they’ve been aware of elections the last two rounds. All three were pretty invested in what was going on. They heard it all – the campaigns, the debates, the commercials, the rhetoric, the pundits, the news, the polls. They knew who we were voting for. They knew why we were voting for her, why we were against the other. So I sent them to bed Tuesday night – they were anxious. We were all a bit shell-shocked when we woke up yesterday.
I couldn’t talk with them about it yesterday. They sensed my anxiety, my sadness, and a bit of anger. Here’s my caveat to what I’m about to say: I respect everyone’s right to vote, I understand voting party lines, I get voting against a candidate, I get voting causes and issues. I don’t get voting because you agree with the hatred spewed during the campaign. My kids know this. We reiterated it a dozen times, if not more. But I have a daughter – one who is very determined, focused, strong, tough, driven. I had to explain rape culture to her, and she just 15 years old. I had to explain to her how a man who admitted to sexual assault could stay in an election while a television personality was fired over it. I had to explain why other would say that’s okay, it’s just “locker room talk.” I had to look her in the eyes and talk with her about gender inequality – that it still exists, and that many people still see women as less-capable, less-worthy. I have a son who has a developmental disability. I had to explain why some people still believe it’s okay to treat him as less, to make fun of him for things he can’t control – how he sometimes acts, how his body sometimes behaves. I had to explain to my oldest child why he simply cannot believe it’s okay to act out what he’s seen as acceptable behavior by a candidate over the last year. He may not take advantage of, nor feel entitled to, white male privilege. We are all human beings…black, white, brown, red, yellow, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, male, female, LGBTQ, heterosexual. We are ALL human beings, deserving of respect. We are created equal.
Yesterday, I couldn’t talk with them about these things. I was caught up in a bad place emotionally. I was processing.
We got into the car this morning to go to school. There were lots of heavy sighs, and more questions of how this happened, more comments on the results. I told them, “Okay, we have one more day to wallow, to be angry, to be upset, to be a little bitter; but then we’re done. He is going to be our President. We need to work together with both sides to make our country be the best it can be. We don’t insult the other side, we don’t support extremists from either party, we don’t spread rumors, we don’t put anyone down or insult them or question their vote, we don’t turn our backs just because things didn’t go the way we wanted. Today, we get the feels all done with. Tomorrow, we begin the work – the work to make sure no one loses any part of their civil liberties, no one is bullied, no one is treated as less. Tomorrow, we reach out with hope and compassion. Tomorrow, we keep our eyes and ears open – we help those who need help, we make sure hatred, vitriol, racism, sexism, and all the phobias don’t take hold, don’t spread. We reach out with love.” That is what I said to them.
I do feel hopeful. The things I’ve heard since yesterday morning from those we needed to hear it from, have helped, have made me less fearful, less anxious. But we will be mindfully watchful.